- The Netcare hospital group says it is expecting an escalation in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks.
- It has found an increase in demand for Covid-19 treatment in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
- The group has also prepared for eventualities such as unexpected staff shortfall.
One of South Africa's biggest private hospital groups, Netcare, says it preparing for a surge in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks.
"The situation remains extremely fluid and we expect demand to escalate further in the coming weeks. We are therefore continuously assessing the demand for hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients, patients under investigation (PUIs) and other patients in order to manage resources effectively in a rapidly changing world," said Netcare hospital division managing director Jacques du Plessis.
Du Plessis confirmed that Netcare hospitals were experiencing a significant increase in demand for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, particularly in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
This week, the country experienced its highest daily rise in cases, with more than 8 000 new infections and almost 100 deaths reported by government in one day.
"We currently have capacity in our hospitals for both Covid-19 and other patients in our critical care units and general wards. It should be noted that not all patients admitted with Covid-19 or as PUI's for Covid-19 require care in critical care units (ICUs or high care units), ventilation or oxygen," said Du Plessis.
He said they,, however understood the public's concern about hospital capacity following a surge in cases this week.
"We have contingency plans in place that ensure that, should a situation present where one of our hospitals does not have capacity at a given time, patients would be transported to and treated in another of our hospitals which do have capacity."
Du Plessis said in, certain instances, for example where a hospital experiences an unexpected staff shortfall, the facility may be temporarily placed "on divert" for emergencies.
This means emergency medical services providers are notified to divert patients to other hospitals in the area.
He said the practice has been in existence for many years. He, however, added that emergency medical care would be provided to any person who turned up at an emergency department with a life-threatening injury or condition.
"I would like to reiterate a message that we give to our staff almost daily, and that is that their resilience and commitment demonstrated since the outbreak of Covid-19 in SA, often in the face of great uncertainty, has been humbling."
On Thursday, News24 reported that the Netcare hospital group had set up "free-standing" mortuaries at some of its hospitals to ensure the safety of health and funeral parlour workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coastal director for Netcare's hospital division Craig Murphy said it had been a precautionary measure to acquired free-standing mortuaries at a number of their hospitals, "in case funeral parlours find themselves in a position where they cannot promptly collect deceased patients from our hospitals".
Murphy was responding to questions about a specialised free-standing mortuary facility at Netcare's Umhlanga Hospital.